Favorite Classic Children’s Books

Regina asked: I was wondering if you ever considered compiling a children’s reading resource list, putting together all of the children’s books you have or would recommend? It could include holiday themed books, faith building, educational, etc. I know that I would find it very helpful.

I have often heard it said that you can never have too many books. Books are such treasures to enjoy. But recently, the thought struck me that you certainly can have too many books, especially if you don’t read them. If you’re shelves are cluttered with tons of titles that are simply collecting dust, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate which ones really do deserve a place on your shelves. We recently did a serious purge with our children’s books. We wanted to keep the treasures and pass on the ones that were falling apart or never really interested the kids. If my children hadn’t grabbed for a title in who knows how long, we decided to say farewell. We currently keep just a small collection of 10-15 books in our living room, toy room, and the kids bedroom. And with a small collection the kids don’t get overwhelmed, and they actually get read and re-read!

I am one that prefers investing in the true classics that had stood the test of time and leave the others to be borrowed from our local library. We also like to buy books in collections, as they save space and money by combining multiple titles under one cover. So here are some of our favorite collections that are worth investing in:

The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury - this compilation has over 44 classic stories that you’re kids will love in a hardcover book that will last!
Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics  - a smaller collection of 12 titles including Harold and the Purple Crayon, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Caps for Sale, and other fun treasures to enjoy.
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh - all these lovable humorous tales of Winnie the Pooh in one volume.
Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales
Eloise Wilkins Stories – I love these adorably illustrated stories of little ones helping mommy, enjoying God’s creation, and so much more!
Tony Mitton Amazing Machines Collection - this set includes 10 small books for that little boy that loves machines and anything that moves! I absolutely love this set of books that are written in rhyme with great information on how these vehicles work. We recently bought these for my 3 year old Titus and he is in love. I was struggling to find books that interested him until I stumbled on this great collection for such a great price!
Arnold Lobel’s books – My kids can’t get enough of Arnold Lobel’s fun books! We love the Frog & Toad Treasury, in addition to Mouse Soup, Mouse Tales, Owl at Home, and his Mother Goose collection.
Mike Mulligan and More: Four Stories by Virginia Lee Burton - the best of Mike Mulligan, The Little House, and more.
The Little Bear Treasury - Little Bear was one of my favorites as a child.
Dr Seuss Beginner Book Collection - the best lovable Dr. Seuss!
P D Eastman’s Big Blue Book of Beginner Books - a fun collection with Go, Dog, Go!, Put Me in the Zoo, and others.

I am sure there are many more that you could add to this list of the children’s classics, but these are the ones we have most greatly enjoyed and highly recommend!

Recommended Reading List:

Here are some of the recommended classic reading lists that we have found helpful when ordering books from the library. I usually choose 10 titles every 2-3 week period between library visits.

Early Years Read Alouds – this compilation of recommended reading by Charlotte Mason has been my source for finding books for my toddler this past year. Great titles!

1000 Good Book List – this list has been extremely helpful in finding the true classics, picture books and otherwise, to read with our children. We’ve read through nearly all the primary level reading list with my 4 year old this past year and found them very suitable and enjoyable for her level.

Sonlight Reading Lists - I also have found the recommended reading for the various curriculum cores from Sonlight to be a great source for ideas for good quality books. You don’t have to use their curriculum to enjoy the wealth of good books here! I use their lists for many of our educational pursuits.

Here are a few posts from the archives:

Favorite Christian Literature for Ages 0-8 - our favorite Christian titles for your little ones!
Recommended Children’s Books for Christmas - the favorites for the holidays!
Recommended Children’s Books for Easter  - at the bottom of this post you will find a list of book recommendations for Easter

Please note: There are affiliate links in this post which we only use to share products that we truly love and recommend for your family. We receive a small percentage of each sale made through our links which we use to help support an orphan home in India and other ministries. 

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Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 3

This is the final installment of a short series on infant routines. Read part 1 here, and part 2 here to catch up with us.

We Love Baby-wearing

Again, I love baby wearing. I love holding my baby close to my heart and snuggling and cuddling with them at moments throughout the day. I love the ability to be able to wear my baby’s but still have my hands free to do dishes, fold laundry, or various other household tasks. It is extremely valuable for their healthy physiological development and growth. Having contact with a parent, especially skin to skin contact is very beneficial to a baby and reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.

But on the other side, I don’t wear my baby all day long. I believe it is important for baby to take most naps on their own in their own bed. But when we are out and about, at church or other events, baby will often take naps in the carrier. From an early age, I also would take along my pack-n-play to friends/family’s homes, so baby could learn how to sleep in different places and environments. This enabled us to have freedom to stay later if desired because baby could sleep nearby. But there have been numerous times when baby just wouldn’t go to sleep in his/her own bed, so I would carry them for the nap period. So there was grace to adapt as necessary even when there was confusion over baby’s needs.

Check out my review of my favorite baby wrap, for the newborn to 6 month range, the Moby Wrap carrier. Another favorite for the older infant and toddler is the Ergo Baby carrier. These are the two carriers we always have on hand. They are also wonderful to use when you are in crowded gatherings and a stroller would be too much work to maneuver, or when shopping with multiple children in tow and having your infant in a carrier gives you two hands free to hold other things.

Entertaining Themselves

I also value the importance of them learning how to entertain themselves, so from an early age, each of my children has short periods where they are laying on the ground with their own little toys and playing on their own. Since their infancy, they have always had alone time in this manner and my little ones now can entertain themselves sufficiently for much longer periods of time. We just recently assembled some fun sensory baskets for my 7 month old and she loves them. It’s so much fun to watch her touch and explore with basic household items.

Afternoon Nap Routine with Multiples

As the children grew, we would adjust the schedule so that the kids would nap at the same time. I found this essential so mommy has the option of taking a nap or spending some time to herself during rest periods. Sometimes this would require us to stretch a tired baby just a bit longer so they both could be laid down together. Often I would actually wake the baby early from their morning nap so they had sufficient awake time and were tired at the same time as the older child for an afternoon nap.

That being said, we plan on having our children nap until they are at least 5 years old, if not longer as needed (usually from 1-2:30 or 3pm each day). I believe they really need it to this period. My little girl will be a mess of tears for the rest of the day if she doesn’t have a short afternoon nap. If they ultimately do not sleep (which certainly happens at times), they can have a quiet rest time looking at books or listening to a book on tape. We have had our nearly 5 year old and 3 year old taking naps together until recently. We now have found taking rest times in separate areas of the house to be much more successful. The older kids go to sleep each night at 8:00 pm and sleep till their nite lite comes on at 8:00 am (granted they often wake up before this period, but we train them to not come out of their bedroom till 8am). These practices allow this Mommy to have a rest period in the afternoon and so focused Daddy time in the evenings. They thrive on this routine and it works very well for our family.

Sleeping Multiples in One Room

Now the question has been asked, “do you have any tips for getting multiple children to sleep well together in one room?” Ultimately, no. I have not found a secret formula for this. It certainly takes some work. We have found it helpful to use a electric fan in their bedroom to help mute any extra noise that may result from one or the other waking up in the middle of the night. We also cover the windows with a blanket to keep it dark to encourage longer sleep periods. Finally, we have found a good nighttime routine to be essential for helping them both wind down together.

Our nighttime routine includes going potty, brushing teeth, singing worship songs, and finally praying over both of them individually before giving hugs and goodnight kisses. Honestly, most nights one or both of them is up multiple times for random reasons and need resettling, but in the long run they do sleep surprisingly well together. and with the use of the Good Nite Lite and a little discipline to train them to stay in bed until the light comes on…I think it is not as scary and some would imagine.

We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions for helping little ones sleep together well…

Thus concludes our short series on what infant routines we practice at our house. We pray the Lord would give you wisdom for what method might be best for your family!

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate, otherwise they will be deleted. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

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Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 2

This is part two of a short series on Infant Routines. To read part 1, visit here

As I mentioned in part 1, my desire with this series is simply to share how God has led us to most peacefully establish an infant routine at our home while keeping a balance in our priorities. We function on a flexible routine. We want to share thoughts and ideas but encourage you to prayerfully make the best decision for your family. This is grace for your family to adopt the routine that works best for you.

Schedule Sleep Periods around Other Priorities

We believe in having a simple flexible schedule for our family. We all thrive on routine and structure with my personality. I am more productive with a schedule. We have adopted the Eat, Wake, Sleep cycle. Baby wakes up, is fed, and then given a good wake time. They are laid down again as soon as they start getting fussy.

I found it most helpful to arrange my baby’s nap routines around what other priorities I had. I want to invest focused quality time with my older children in the morning doing fun reading and school activities together, so I try to arrange baby to take a morning nap during this time. I also want my kiddos to be able to nap/quiet rest together in the afternoon, because I believe taking a rest period is very beneficial for all of us. It helps keep this mommy energized and happy to have a daily period of rest to read, take a nap if necessary, and have some personal time. Having a daily rest keeps the kids happy as well. So we intentionally set a afternoon nap period each day. This also provides me to time to spend writing, doing small household tasks, etc. So we have a 2 hr rest period every afternoon and I seek to adjust my baby’s to encourage them to nap during these periods as well.

So, in general I try to aim to wake my baby by 8:00am each morning so that she is tired again by 9:30 or 10:00am and ready for a morning nap from 10-11:30 am. With a newborn, this period of wakefulness might only be 30 minutes and will gradually stretch longer, so the naps will start earlier when they are younger. Then, I would wake my baby up (if she didn’t wake up on her, which is more commonly the case), feed the baby, prepare lunch, and then get all the kids down for a nap together by 1:00pm. Usually I will give my baby an extra nursing before this nap to encourage a longer nap period.

As the baby transitions to one nap, I will adjust my older kids to have a nap period slightly earlier and just keep my infant awake to stretch them to lay down at the same period as the older ones.

Finally, we give them a short late afternoon nap (30-45 minutes) sometime between 4-5:30 pm.

In this manner, they are ready to be put down for the night around 7-8pm. We try to put the kids to bed all at the same time. Then I normally wake my baby up around 10 pm to give one final night feeding, change their diaper, and then put them back down again for the night. Between birth and 2-3 months, there will often be 1-2 more nightly feedings. But by 7-8 weeks old, they are usually doing 6-8 hour stretches at night. They normally wake up between 5-6am, and I will nurse them again and put them down again until 8 am, when the other children wake up. This allows Mommy to have time with the Lord or get further sleep as needed.

Of course this is not the same every night and my current baby still wakes occasionally wake in the middle of the night. If she does, I give her just a minute or two to see if she will fall back asleep. If not, I nurse her again and put her back down.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness

One of the keys I have found for peaceful transitions into nap periods, is to be attentive to signs of tiredness in your child. In the beginning, I would feed the baby roughly every 2 1/2-3 hours (which looked like and slowly stretched these periods over time as the baby grew. After a good thorough nursing (trying to keep the baby awake especially as a newborn), we would have a wake period where we would play, ride on mommy, etc. As soon as the baby showed signs of tiredness (crying, rubbing eyes, whimpering, eyes beginning to look red and heavy, etc.), we would lay baby down for a nap. From personal experience, it is far more difficult to put to sleep an overly tired baby. If I keep my baby up too late, it takes twice as long to get her down.

We Keep a Schedule, but Keep it Flexible

But I have been extremely flexible with our feeding routine, especially with each new baby we add. I keep a guideline of 2 1/2 – 3 hrs between feedings but was never limited to this or focused on the clock in any way. If baby appears to be hungry and all other needs are met (diaper changed, not tired, etc), then I feed baby. I don’t believe in enduring a crying baby just to get them to the next feeding time. I want to meet my child’s needs as they grow and develop. I also will often top her off with extra milk or a bottle as needed before her naps and especially before the final bedtime feeding around 7pm. I want to make sure her belly is completely full so she sleeps the most soundly and happily.

Every time baby is laid down for rest, we allow them 5-10 minutes to fuss or cry to wind themselves down as necessary. Normally, if you learn your child’s patterns and signs of sleepiness it is not really a problem. Watch for tired signs: rubbing eyes, crying, laying head down, sleepy eyes, etc. They will want to sleep. Their bodies adopt the rhythm of nap times as well. If after this 5-10 minute period, they do not go to sleep, I will check diaper, burp, or rock for a few minutes to help settle them and try again. If it again does not work, I might then top them off with additional breastmilk or simply nap them in a carrier. I never nurse them to sleep because it never works for us…the moment you put them down they wake back up. The key is to keep them awake so they are tired and ready to sleep when you lay them down. Keep them awake and get their belly really full.

Follow Your Motherly Intuition

So did this work perfectly? By no means. There were many times when baby had their own plan and try as I might, I couldn’t figure them out. I had to follow my motherly intuition. So we’ve had our share of patting them on the back to help them fall asleep, cuddling, placing them in a carrier to comfort and console them, etc. Many late afternoon naps (for some reason this one has been more of a common problem) have been abandoned and baby has taken a cat nap on mommy in the baby carrier while I made dinner preparations. I don’t strive for the perfect schedule, but did the best I could so that my other responsibilities could be addressed as well. Having a simple schedule enabled me to know when I could get my housecleaning done along with setting intervals for interaction with my other children. And ultimately, every baby will be a bit different and so there is grace to learn and adjust as you go along. No method will work perfectly. Give yourself grace to adapt and adjust as needed.

We are currently in a crazy season with my own personal health and my husband’s job position, so we often have days when we throw out the routine and just follow the cues for sleep periods. I’m thankful that God gives grace for such periods of our lives.

I wanted to conclude this part by sharing that as Christians we are free from fear through the blood of Jesus. God’s grace is abundant in helping lead you and your family in the direction that he would have you adopt in your choice of infant routines. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1). I want to encourage you above all, to submit yourselves to the Lord. Seek His direction, communicate and discuss with your spouse, and preserve the unity of the body of Christ. May God give you grace to loving nurture your children in the love and admonition of the Lord.

In Part 3 we will discuss encouraging longer sleep periods, and thoughts on sleeping multiples together…

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate, otherwise they will be deleted. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

Comments { 61 }

Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 1

Addie asked: I was wondering where you fall on the baby wise-demand feeding continuum. What is your secret to finding a routine, but still following your intuition to hold them when they are upset? How do you care for your home, your children, and your health?

There are two different camps when it comes to infant routines and the basics of parenting, and both have led to confusion, frustration, and contention among friends and family. Some have defined the attachment approach to be the truly biblical manner of parenting because it demonstrates God’s love for his children with the practices of demand feeding, co-sleeping, infant wearing, etc. While others have said that adopting a schedule (the baby wise, scheduled feedings, cry-it out camp) is important to training your children to understand authority in their lives and good routine helps them thrive and grow while helping to establish that the child is not the center of the world. I don’t believe it is right to say one way is right and the other way is wrong…or that one way is more biblical than the other. This is certainly a liberty issue and we have freedom in Christ to determine the best pattern for our family structures. I am here today to share where the Lord has led us…a balance between the two

I have one wonderful mother who falls on the scheduling side, and one wonderful mother-in-law who falls on the attachment parenting/co-sleeping side, so both my husband and I have experienced being raised by these two different camps. And you know what? There honestly is no difference between us in our levels of security, strength of relationship with our parents, or any thing else. We both grew up fully secure in our parent’s love and both family’s were happy with the routines they adopted. Although I was taught to cry it out in learning how to go to sleep, I did not feel in any way deprived from my parent’s love and affection (in fact, I am extremely blessed with a close relationship with my parents).

I say this because I want to assure every new mother out there that there is complete grace for your situation to adopt what you feel led to practice. Don’t feel guilty if you chose a more flexible on demand approach. Don’t feel guilty if you throw in the towel on co-sleeping because its stressing your marriage, as there are plenty of more opportunities to invest in your child’s well-being, physiological development, and bonding then just sleeping together with them. Adopting either of these practices will not make you a better parent. And you need not feel like a failure if either/or does not work for your family.

I love many of the ideas of attachment parenting. I love the vision of bonding with baby by being closely knitted to them through breastfeeding. I adore wearing my baby on me throughout the day with baby wraps and carriers, and cuddling up with their sweet little heads close to my heart. But I don’t practice co-sleeping, and I don’t practice demand feeding 100% of the time.

I also love many of the ideas of Baby Wise and scheduling (my mom gave me a copy of My First 300 Babies which also helped encourage a scheduled feeding/sleeping approach). I love a good simple routine. I love knowing approximately when baby will sleep and when he/she will be awake. I love having a simple plan for our feedings, so that the other responsibilities in life would fall into place. This mommy believes in the importance of sleep so she can care for her family and household to the best of her abilities. My babies are joyful and happy when they have good regular nap and bed times.

But, I don’t believe these practices are more biblical or look down on anyone who chooses another option. We are called to strive for the unity of the body, to love one another, to support and encourage each other.

So what have we chosen to do? First off, we have chosen not to practice co-sleeping.

We function on these principles…

Our marriage is our first priority.

Above all, we want to preserve the marriage bed as a sacred place for my husband and I. We want our children to understand that our marriage is a priority. When children become center stage, it is too easy for a marriage to lack growth because no time is spent together. We believe our children need to understand that there are boundaries. We need privacy to build our marriage in our communication and sexual interaction. The last thing we need is the fear of waking a child.

“Children are not more important than God – or our husbands. For their own well-being and the well-being of your marriage, children must understand that they come after your spouse. They need to know they fit into a secure place within an established set of relationships.” -Jean Fleming

Sleep is a priority for my health and emotional/physical well-being.

I have experienced the harm of being sleep-deprived for extended periods of time when I battled insomnia for 1 1/2 years. In order to be a wife and mother that is alive and well and can effectively manage the responsibilities under my care, I need to strive to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night. Yes, it may be interrupted by little ones, but with a routine and separate bed situation, they are able to start sleeping through the night far earlier. I have also found that they sleep longer and more contentedly in their own sleeping environment. Our little ones have learned to sleep through the night naturally at 6-7 weeks in their own beds, which I am extremely thankful for.

Ultimately, in making the decision whether or not to co-sleep, please make sure you prayerfully discuss it with your husband to make sure you are on the same page. The last thing you would want to do is cause a divide in your marriage because he thinks otherwise. Remember to honor your husbands for the well being of your family.

Where Do Our Babies Sleep?

So, for about the first few week or so, baby will be snuggled in with us in bed as Mommy recovers, but will transition to a moses style bassinet by 2 weeks. We then have the baby nearby in our room with until they around about 2-3 months old (and normally sleeping through the night by this point). Then our babies sleep in our closet until they grow out of the bassinet and are consistently sleeping through the night (around 10 months to 1 year).  This way we have a bit more privacy, but I can easily hear if the baby awakes and needs assistance. By 1 year old, we transition them to a crib and place them together in the same room with our other children.

More to come…

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

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Raising Samuels

Eli helping Samuel to learn to hear God's voice

From Contributing Writer, Trina Holden

Learning to hear God’s voice is a life-long journey. I want to give my kids an early start by teaching them they can learn to listen while they’re young. Here’s how we’re cultivating a listening ear in our home…

Read the story of Samuel {A Lot!}

I want my son to understand that God really does talk to 5 year old boys! He’s had the concept quite cemented in his mind through the story of Samuel, which we’ve read over and over in every version of the Bible we have.

Our favorite is the one in the Rhyme Bible Storybook. My kids love the rhythm of poetry so we read it over and over until they could recite it with me.

“When it happened again, Old Eli knew,

And he told the boy what he should do:

‘Listen, for God is speaking to you!’”

Teach Them That All Good Things Come From God

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”. This verse is key to helping us discern whether something we hear is from God. Is it good? Teach your children that we can’t take the credit for any of the good that comes out of us. Once they realize that the source of a bright idea or a kind thought is actually God’s Spirit, it can help them tune in to His voice.

The other day, when I got home from running errands, I reached for the screen door and found the wind had slammed it so hard it was jammed shut. No amount of yanking would budge it. I had a little moment of panic. The kids were cold and hungry — I needed to get them inside. Jesse (5) had the idea to try the back door.

“Thanks, boy, but it’s probably locked.” I quickly dialed my husband to ask “What to do?”

Undaunted, my boy ran around the corner of the house and, to our surprise, turned the handle and proudly announced to his mommy, “I got it! It’s open!”

We trooped gratefully inside for lunch. Later that day, Jesse said, out of the blue, “Mom, I think that was GOD for me to think to use the back door!”

I agreed that, yes, good ideas come from God.

Live It Out In Front of Them

Share openly with your children what God is working in your own heart. They may not grasp the concepts, but they will get the main idea – that one CAN have dialog with the Father.

One day I realized that the words I thought were over their head were still having an impact. Jesse said to me, “Mom, God talked to me today.”

“Yeah? What did He say?”

“Same thing He told you, Mom! ‘Be patient and keep on keepin’ on’!”

Thank you, Father!

More Ideas For Raising Samuels:

  • If you children are old enough, encourage them to keep a little prayer journal where they write a prayer to God and then jot down anything they hear in return.
  • If they are too young to write, let them dictate what they hear after you read a little scripture, or lead them to draw a picture.
  • Remind them that the quiet time in their bed alone as they fall asleep is a great time to talk with God.

“Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God”. Mark 10:14

As you lead your children, your own heart will be encouraged when you witness their childlike faith.

How are you cultivating your children’s faith? What has worked for your family? I’m always looking for more ideas!

Photo Credit

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My Favorite Home Management iPhone Apps

Screenshot of Clear app

In the last year, I have been using an iPhone and have found it extremely useful for organizing my life and managing our household well. I love having everything in one place, from our calendar, to my to-do list, to basic note taking. It is ultimately becoming my homemaking binder on my phone. It has saved me a lot of time because it is all conveniently located on one device.

It has certainly been distracting at times, so I have found it wise to set parameters for use to prevent myself from becoming overly consumed with this easy access technology. Frequently, I delete all my social media apps so I can take regular fasts from them. I am currently taking a week fast from them. I also find it helpful to make sure I keep my phone on the counter for the better part of the day, so I am not distracted to look at it while I’m teaching school, or doing various other tasks around my home.

I wanted to share with you what applications I have found to be most useful. I have sampled many different apps, but keep coming back to the most simple, clean, and basic apps out there. It is quickly becoming my virtual homemaking binder!

All of these are also compatible (as far as I understand) on iPod touch and iPad devises.

Mint

We love to use Mint.com for all our household financial budgeting and organizing. With the Mint app you can categorize purchases, add transactions, check on balances, and keep tabs on your income all for free!

Craigslist Pro

Craigslist Pro makes it easy to find great deals, post your own ads, and email sellers in a few seconds. With it’s use of the Iphone camera, you can actually post your own ads in a matter of a few minutes from taking the picture, adding a description, and posting it all from your phone. Saved me oodles of time! I’ve tried many different free craigslist apps, and paying $0.99 for this one was well worth it since it is not buggy and easily navigable.

Clear

My most recent find and favorite app (thanks to my dear hubby!) has been the Clear application for organizing my to-do list. It is so simple, crisp, and colorful. Tap to add a to-do, slid to the left to delete, hold to move one around…wow. I have set up several different lists in my Clear app, including a personal to-do list, Blog tasks, Household needs, (which I also use to make a simple grocery list), Errands, Long term Goals, etc. As we run out of things around our house, I add that item to our household needs list. When I need to pick up some groceries or other items, I look at this list and can easily move things around according to food categories/aisles, etc. It is by far the best app I have used for simple home management and is only $1.99.

Shopper

So currently I find myself using Clear to make my basic grocery list, but in the past I have also used Shopper, which I found very helpful as well because I could make multiple grocery lists for the different stores that I would visit and it automatically organizes it by file and you can add the cost of each item for the budget conscious. Since I shop on a monthly basis for most things, I could just keep the same ongoing monthly grocery list.

Reminders

The Reminders app comes with the IPhone and is very useful for setting reminders for various tasks. I use it to remind me to change the laundry, add yogurt starter, put something in the oven at a certain time and it will buzz me. Sometimes I will need to remember to bring something to someone’s house, so I will set a reminder to go off 15 minutes before departure with the listed items to bring. No more forgetting things!

Home Routines

I have recently been introduced to Home Routines by my readers and am just beginning to use it. I like how it allows me to add my own morning and evening routines, cleaning schedules, etc. but also provides structure to build my own cleaning zones with reminders using the Fly Lady model. Love the built in timer to help me get tasks done in 10-15 min. Great app to keep you on track in your household management.

Notes

The Notes app also comes with the IPhone and is just a basic general virtual notepad. I use this application to keep my thankfulness list, my weekly menu, and other basic important notes that I want to remember. From this app, I can easily email my notes to myself or others for safe keeping.

Google Calendar

I love using Google Calendar for all our household and family scheduling. It is easy to synch to include my husband’s schedule and important dates and deadlines for my blog. In this manner, we make sure that we know each other’s schedule as it is easily accessible from our phones. It’s nice to have my schedule on my phone at all times to refer to especially when I am out and about.

All Recipes Pro

I find nearly all my recipes and new inspiration for crafting my own recipes from Allrecipes.com. Whenever I desire to make something new, I use allrecipes.com because every recipe is thoroughly reviewed! They recently released the All Recipes Dinner Spinner Pro app and it is awesome. I can find a wealth of quality recipes with a simple search, check out the awesome amount of reviews, and add my favorites to my recipe box within the application. It can also make you an instant shopping list with the ingredients found in your choice of recipes. Well worth the $2.99!

So there you have it…my favorite simple applications! I’ve tried a wealth of other free apps and most often they are useless or frustrating. Investing in a couple quality apps is worth the time saved!

I recently put a blurb out on our facebook fan page for recommendations for iPhone applications. See the discussion here. These are the ones that the readers have tried.

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Praying for the World Around Our Dinner Table

The Lord has been doing a stirring in my heart about the importance of prayer. It is a discipline that is easily slipped under the table. I want to be intentional about teaching my children how to pray. I want them to grow up with a heart and love for others. I want them to be aware of the great battle for the gospel that is taking place outside our doorstep. I want them to care for the lost. How can this be done?

I stumbled upon an idea on Pinterest a few months back about putting together a prayer pail. It has been the best thing we have found to help cultivate a heart and love for prayer in our family.

Basically, you take large craft sticks (the wider popsicle sticks), and write the names of individuals, countries, ministries, neighbors, and whoever or whatever the Lord might lay on your heart to begin praying for on a regular basis. We decorated a cute mug and labeled it with stickers as our “prayer pail.”

Some of the people we have included:

Grandparents, Relatives
Leadership in our church
Our City
Our President
Our neighborhood
Sick friends or family
Members in our community group
Our sponsored children
Non-Christian friends we are seeking to show the love of Christ to
Other charity organizations we give to: Pregnancy Resource Center, Orphan home in India, Wycliffe Bible Translators, etc
Persecuted Church around the World
Human Trafficking
Ministries in our church

Then, every night around the dinner table, each family member takes a craft stick and prays for the listed person/ministry. For our littlest members, my husband and I will pray and have our child repeat after us, so that they can grow in understanding how to pray. Both our children absolutely love this routine. Every night they will faithfully remind us to pick a stick! And without doubt, they are eager to pray. It is the sweetest thing. We have no excuse. It helps keep us accountable and faithful in praying for the needs of others around us. Our eyes are being opened to see that there is greater needs beyond our own. And as we seek God’s face together, I am confident that God is going to do mighty things! There is power in prayer.

The prayer of a righteous man avails much!

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Screaming Toddlers & Sleepless Babies

I had an adventurous evening last night. With my husband away working extra night hours to launch his new business, this momma has been acting the part of a single mommy trying to juggle all the aspects of child care, home maintenance, and food preparation on her own. While struggling with little to no sleep, it has surely been challenging. My infant refused to go to sleep due to stuffy noses and stayed up with me till 10:30pm, while I strove to contain a pile high of laundry, amidst my toddler boy getting up repeatedly to use the toilet, always needing help in the process.

Finally coming up at 10:30, only to discover my toddler crying at the top of his lunges standing in a puddle of pee, soaked through his jammies. While he stands there crying, my infant is lying on the bed with poop leaking through her diaper onto my comforter. Running back and forth, I madly try to change each of them, nurse the baby, comfort the toddler (who gets incredibly distraught when he has an accident), and settle them all down in their beds. So much for a quiet evening to myself. And this was just the evening…we won’t get into the adventures of the day. ;)

I finally crashed on the bed, leaving the cleanups for the morning. Normally I would be stressed out, frazzled, and ready to throw in the towel. What did I get myself into? I might moan and feel sorry for myself. But tonight, God supplied me with an extra measure of grace to simply sit back and laugh. To replay the situation and see the humor in it all. To laugh at all the adventures this mothering business provides. To let go of my frustration and weariness and embrace the journey He has called me to. We will surely look back in years to come and laugh…why not do it now? Feeling sorry for myself surely won’t get me anywhere. It won’t improve my situation. It won’t increase my contentment. Laughter provides such healing to the soul.

It reminded me of Ma Ingall’s sage advice in the Little House on the Prairie tv series. She was getting all frustrated over something Pa had done and seeping in anger in her inner being. She finally declares to Pa, “It’s such a waste of time to be angry at you.” And they heartily laugh together. This struck me. She had such wisdom to discern the pointlessness of focusing on her own frustrations and disappointments. Feeling sorry for herself surely didn’t improve the situation. She realized that ultimately it is just a waste of time.

I rise this morning with several messes on hand…but the joy of the Lord as my strength! Go forth in the joy of the Lord today my friends and seek to let go and laugh. May the Lord supply us with grace to embrace the challenges, to laugh at the adventures, and to do all in the grace and strength that He alone supplies.

Remember the wise woman of Proverbs 31:25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” I pray for this freedom to let go of fear and laugh at ourselves in our daily lives and to have such trust in the Lord that we can laugh as we look forward to the adventures of the future.

{Photo credit}

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The Man Who Taught Me the Beauty of Simplicity

Three weeks ago a dear family friend, Tony Tuck, passed from this world into glory. You never truly understand the impact of someone’s life until they have departed from this life. As I sat there pondering his story, I realized that he was the man who taught me the beauty and value of simplicity. He was the grandfather I never had.

He lived a quiet life. Just him and his lovely wife. He lived next door to our family for as long as I could remember. I was born and raised on the property that we shared a life together with several other families. Tony was a quiet fellow. He treasured the glories of nature around him. He loved growing beautiful flowers and vegetables and designing amazing creative artistic displays with various pieces of creation and reusing old tattered pieces of life. He built am amazing bridge across the creek that ran below our house out of a huge log and rope. He designed a prayer cabin out in the back woods for quiet times and solitude. He was quiet, and yet he invested in the lives of others every moment of his life. One by one he touched many lives. He never wanted to be the leader, but rather the servant of all.  The slew of kids that grew up on the property experienced his grandfatherly nature.

He would bring us all together for various work projects around the property and after it was complete, he would load us all up in the back of his covered pick up truck and drive us down to dollars corner for malt milkshakes on his treat. It was such a special time. We loved Tony. We loved reading his collection of Tintin comic books. We loved his amazing “darn good noodles” and every other concoction he created. We love his homemade stone pizza oven and the scrumptious homemade pizzas we created there. But most of all, we loved Tony because he cared. He cared for us. He valued spending time with kids. They were his friends.

He didn’t have much, or at least he didn’t flaunt it. His house was simple. Clean. Comfortable. His life was far from hectic. I would watch him and his wife ride bikes around or simply stroll around the property all the time. And yet he taught me the importance of being uniquely present for each one. His presence conveyed comfort, peace, and contentment. He brought beauty into every area of life. He knew that there was more to be heard in silence than in a loud multitude. Tony and his wife welcomed all into their home.

They built a community in our neighborhood of healing and rest. I never saw them stressed, frustrated, or complaining. He loved just being out in nature and cherishing the small beauties.

As I look back, I see this man as a glorious example of simplicity. Life is too precious to rush through in the fast lane. Life is too short to overlook the beauty of creation that we are called to steward and care for. Where is the value in doing so many things and missing out on all these simple beauties? To love and touch one life at a time. That is my desire. To be fully present with each life bestowed into my care. To welcome young and old into our home to enjoy the bounty that God has blessed us with. This is what Tony taught me. And that was beautiful.

Thank you Tony for cherishing the little things. Thank you for being our Grandpa that we didn’t have. Thank you for creating beauty out of the discarded. Thank you for loving each person who entered your life without thought of what you might receive in return. Thank you for giving generously in every area of your life. Your treasure must be great in heaven with you now.

Only one life…

twill soon be past…

Only what’s done

for Christ will last.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup w/Crockpot Adaption

This soup has been a favorite on our dinner menu over the last few months…we just can’t get enough. It has such a rich flavor and incredibly satisfying for every cold night! Need I say…yum!!!

1-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 zucchini, diced
1-2 cups black beans, as desired (or 1 -15 oz can)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup chunky salsa (we use our homemade fermented salsa – yum!)
1 tsp sea salt (add if you are using your own homemade broth, season as desired)
8 ounces corn tortilla chips
1 cup shredded cheese (we use raw cheddar, but you can use monterey or peppered jack)
Sour cream, optional

 Directions:

1. Brown chicken breasts in olive oil until fully cooked or you may boil them in a medium pot of boiling water until they are cooked through. Remove from pan, cool, and then shred with two forks.
2. In a large pot, saute onions, zucchini, and celery until soft and browned. Add cumin, garlic cloves, chicken broth, corn, black beans, chili powder, lemon juice, salsa, salt, and shredded chicken. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.
3. Break up some tortilla chips in the bottom of each bowl and pour the soup over the chips. Top with sour cream and cheese.

Crockpot adaption: In a crockpot, combine all your ingredients, except chips and cheese. It is easiest to leave chicken breasts whole until they are fully cooked, then pull them out and shred them with two forks and place the chicken back into the pot during the last hour. Cook on low for 4-6 hours in your crockpot. Break up some tortilla chips into individual bowls and pour soup over chips. Top with cheese and sour cream as desired.

Yield: 6 servings.

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